Nadra launches contactless biometric verification service for banking

Published September 10, 2021
This picture shows State Bank of Pakistan  Governor Dr Reza Baqir (L) and National Database and Registration Authority Chairperson Tariq Malik (R) on the occasion of the launch of  contactless biometric verification services for the banking and payments industry. — Photo courtesy NADRA Twitter
This picture shows State Bank of Pakistan Governor Dr Reza Baqir (L) and National Database and Registration Authority Chairperson Tariq Malik (R) on the occasion of the launch of contactless biometric verification services for the banking and payments industry. — Photo courtesy NADRA Twitter

ISLAMABAD: The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has launched contactless biometric verification services for the banking and payments industry, making Pakistan one of the first countries in the world to implement the technology on national level.

The service was launched during a visit by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Dr Reza Baqir to the Nadra headquarters here on Thursday.

Banks will make use of the digital app on smartphones capturing and verifying biometrics of the potential account holders from their homes. With the introduction of this digital technology, the banking system will take a paradigm shift, adding the remote biometric capturing technology to the digital banking system.

The service is initially extended to five banks nominated by the SBP for a pilot project. Other banks and fully SBP-licensed EMIs (Electronic Money Institutions), after completion of necessary formalities, will also be included in the pilot run. Once the pilot is completed, this service shall be extended to all banks/EMIs, said a news release issued on Thursday.

SBP governor sees endless potential in new technology to reach underserviced population

The SBP governor said: “This new mobile-based verification service for banks and Electronic Money Institutions is in line with SBP’s financial inclusion initiative while creating opportunity for rapid on-boarding using remote identification and e-KYC features.”

He added: “Early adoption of this new technology has endless potential to reach towards underserviced population while it extends a great benefit to the financial sector as it will reduce the operational costs, aiding in releasing pressure on banks which have been negatively impacted during this pandemic.”

In his address, Nadra Chairman Tariq Malik said: “We are addressing the need of the hour during this on-going pandemic. This new technology makes contactless fingerprint acquisition and matching possible using a smart mobile phone, providing an alternative to conventional methods of conducting digital financial transactions that may require specialised equipment or visits to bank branches/franchises. Nadra is proud to maintain its reputation for introducing niche technological trends in the country. It is another step towards our aim of creating a robust National ID Eco System in Pakistan.”

Banks have started development work to utilise this new service launched by Nadra last week. Nadra will also be providing this service to the EMIs as well as branchless banking providers. Capitalising on Nadra’s innovative product, the banks and EMIs are likely to start offering new digital banking services to its customers whereby customers will be able to open bank accounts and wallets and conduct biometric-based financial transactions using their mobile phone cameras from the ease of their homes.

“This will not only revolutionise how banking and payments services are offered in the country but will also compliment the financial inclusion drive,” Mr Malik said.

Nadra introduced a similar mobile verification service for Online ID Services (Pak ID) earlier that was launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sept 1, 2021.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2021

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